Press Release: Businesses Gain Competitive Edge, Other Benefits by Adopting Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets

For Immediate Release:  
November 2, 2001

Contact: Katie Mandes
703-516-4146

Businesses Gain Competitive Edge, Other Benefits by Adopting Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets

Washington, DC - By committing themselves to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, leading companies in the United States and worldwide are doing more than addressing the problem of climate change. They are also improving their competitive positioning, according to a new report from the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

The report, Corporate Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets uses case studies of a variety of companies that have established climate-related targets for reducing their emissions and/or energy use to show how the adoption of such targets, along with concerted efforts to meet them, can help improve performance and bottom-line results. All of the profiled companies view their efforts to set and meet climate-related targets as a way to reduce production costs and enhance product sales today. The companies also report that, in working to achieve their targets, they are improving their prospects for success under future regulatory and market environments.

"These companies understand that the world cannot avoid dealing in a serious way with climate change," said Eileen Claussen, President of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. "They know that their climate-friendly investments will pay off. And they see that taking action now and not later can drive new efficiencies, performance improvements and innovation."

This report was authored by a team from Global Change Strategies International. Drawing on the experiences of companies that are part of the Pew Center's Business Environmental Leadership Council (BELC), the report explores the companies' reasons for adopting targets, their choices of various types and levels of targets, their plans for meeting the targets, and their progress to date. The report also provides guidance to businesses that are considering climate-related targets, based on the experiences of the profiled companies, which include ABB, Entergy, IBM, Shell, Toyota, and United Technologies Corporation.

Talking Targets

Corporate Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets defines climate-related targets as quantitative performance objectives for indicators related to climate change, such as greenhouse gas emissions or energy use. One of the report's key conclusions is that setting climate-related targets can help companies prepare for future mandates by investing now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, by taking the initiative and showing how emissions can be reduced in cost-effective ways, the companies profiled in the report believe they can contribute to the design of efficient and equitable climate policy. They also believe that their adoption of climate-related targets enhances their reputation as environmental leaders in the marketplace.

"The diversity in the type and scope of targets and implementation activities that companies have taken on voluntarily indicates that policies to reduce emissions should be as flexible as possible," reports Eileen Claussen, President of The Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

At the same time that it cites the business advantages that can accompany a commitment to climate-related targets, the Pew Center report also notes the inherent risks of such a strategy. The companies profiled in the report are acting on the assumption that government will sooner or later develop a policy on climate change, that it will allow companies flexibility, and that it will reward and not punish early movers. If these assumptions turn out to be wrong, the companies could be disadvantaged in relation to competitors who were less proactive.

Part of "Solutions" Series

Corporate Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets was authored by Michael Margolick and Doug Russell of Global Change Strategies International. The report is part of the Pew Center's Solutions series, which is aimed at providing individuals and organizations with tools to evaluate and reduce their contributions to climate change. Other Pew Center series focus on domestic and international policy issues, environmental impacts, and the economics of climate change.

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The Pew Center was established in May 1998 by the Pew Charitable Trusts, one of the United States' largest philanthropies and an influential voice in efforts to improve the quality of the environment. The Pew Center is conducting studies, launching public education efforts and working with businesses to develop market-oriented solutions to reduce greenhouse gases. The Pew Center is led by Eileen Claussen, the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs. The Pew Center includes the Business Environmental Leadership Council, which is composed of 36 major, largely Fortune 500 corporations all working with the Pew Center to address issues related to climate change. The companies do not contribute financially to the Pew Center - it is solely supported by contributions from charitable foundations.